Where are the Christian gamers?
They are in the pews and gymnasiums and sanctuaries of our churches and we are despised for our entertainment. Acts 29, Southern Baptists, Assemblies of God and Presbyterians all have had leaders who have come out and stated games as ‘mindless’, ‘godless’, ‘pointless’, ‘for the lazy,’ and ‘emasculating men.’ Video games, are the bane of the Christian… culture?
Is this a true form of escapism? Are men avoiding women to give attention to the next high score, or bouncing breasts on screen? Are responsibilities skirted by achievements and trophies? Are games really that bad?
Here’s the reality we have before us:
The average gamer is 37 (not just your teenagers in your youth group!). In the US alone, there are more than 100k jobs that are based in the video game industry. The industry has over $25 billion in consumer spending last year alone, and is one of the largest portions of the entertainment industry. Gaming sessions, or time played in one sitting, isn’t as long as many movies today. Even the game World of Warcraft has an average session of just over 2 hours, just after a new expansion, which is about the length of a film, or a weekly television show lineup. So are video games the problem? Or is it sin?
While games can have spiritually fatal results, so can evangelism, food, sports, movies, working out, Internet, talking, money, rest, working, silence, solitude, love. In every aspect of creation, mankind can deify it, or misrepresent it, or altogether avoid it. In all of culture, we can accentuate, and be infatuated with, groups and cliques and portions and perspectives. But in every portion of culture there are people; and every assault on the culture is a statement about the people within that culture.
Our response should not be to assault it because of it’s misuse. Instead, we should think Christianly about the culture and how we should respond Christianly to it. While Paul stood in the Areopagus he did not assault the believers, but simply stated that they were very religious in every way. He goes on to speak about what they somewhat knew, their unknown god. Although they did not know him, they knew he must exist. And from this, Paul tells them the beginning of the gospel. So why can Paul talk about a waste of the Areopagus’ time in such a loving way, and yet we cannot give gaming and its industry the same grace?
To the non-believing gamer, we know the true hero of old. We know the best ‘spec’ed healer. We know the best alpha team and it’s leader. We know the search for beauty and the history and corruption that has kept it hidden. We know the failures, losses, and deaths that everyone has experienced. We know the mistakes that have been made. In all the stories where reality is not as it should be, we know that this present world is not the way it is supposed to be. And it and you can be rescued.
To the gaming believer, enjoy entertainment. Realize it’s reflection on reality; pay attention to it’s message and what it is telling you. Put it in it’s rightful place. Subdue it. Know that it will war against truth; it is not going to ultimately tell you the truth, no matter how close to it it tries to be. Observe how it distorts Scripture and the message it tells us.
Beware the enemy’s deceit, his arrows. Walk with your guard (faith) up. Be cautious of your own failures; know what your weaknesses are and seek to flee from the evil one in these ways. If your greatest spiritual battle is in sex/anger/drugs/laziness/whatever, flee the enemy and avoid it in your entertainment. God’s your safety, run to him.
Our goal here at TheoLudens is to provide some insight into the culture of games and think about it Christianly. We’ll talk about aspects of gaming and how it reflects or refracts theological truths. We’d like to observe specific games and get straight examples of messages with games. Stick around, we hope to provide you with springboards for discussion, metaphors for illustrations, and, God willing, informative entertainment. Enjoy TheoLudens, and welcome!